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History of African Slavery

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  1. Atlantic Slave TradeTheme: Slavery as a product of globalization, its effects on Africa and the Americas, (and the impact of Enlightenment ideas on eventual abolition – Chapter 17)

  2. History of African Slavery • Slavery has existed since antiquity • It became common in Africa after the Bantu migrations spread agriculture to all parts of the continent

  3. History of African Slavery • Most slaves in Africa were war captives • Once enslaved, an individual had no personal or civil rights • Owners could order slaves to do any kind of work, punish them, and sell them as chattel • Most slaves worked as cultivators

  4. History of African Slavery • African law did not recognize individual land ownership, so wealth and power in Africa came from not owning land but by controlling the human labor that made it productive • Slaves were a form of investment and a sign of wealth

  5. Islamic Slave Trade • After the 8th Century, Muslim merchants from north Africa, Arabia, and Persia sought African slaves for trade in the Mediterranean basin, southwest Asia, India, and as far away as southeast Asia and China • The Islamic slave trade lasted into the 20th Century and resulted in the deportation of as many as 10 million Africans

  6. European Slave Trade • By the time Europeans arrived in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 15th and 16th Centuries, the slave trade was a well-established feature in African society • A detailed system for capturing, selling, and distributing slaves had been in place for over 500 years • With the arrival of the Europeans and the demand for slaves in the Americas, the slave trade expanded dramatically

  7. The Atlantic Slave Trade When? • 1450 - Spanish & Portuguese start slaving in Africa • 1865 - still smuggling slaves until the end of the civil war (technically illegal in 1808)

  8. The Atlantic Slave Trade Why? (3 reasons combined) • Labor shortage (not enough workers) • Ethnocentrism – (feelings of superiority) • Greed

  9. The Atlantic Slave Trade Where to? • Where from? 5% 60% 65% 30% 35% 5%

  10. Number of people enslaved • 30 million taken from their homes • 10 million die during capture phase • 10 million die during middle passage • 10 million survive to make it over the ocean

  11. Portuguese Slave Traders • The Portuguese began capturing slaves in Africa in the 15th Century, but quickly learned it was easier to buy them • In Europe, slaves usually worked as miners, porters, or domestic servants since free peasants and serfs cultivated the land Europeans and Africans Meet to Trade

  12. Phases of the Slave Trade • West African expectations about slavery: • Slaves were not slaves for life • A slave’s child would not be a slave

  13. Cape Verde Sao Tome Portuguese Slave Trade • When the Portuguese discovered the Azores, Madeiras, Cape Verde Islands, and Sao Tome in the 15th Century, they were all uninhabited • The Portuguese population was too small to provide a large number of colonists • The sugar plantations required a large labor force • Slaves filled this demand

  14. Slave Trade and Sugar • By the 1520s some 2,000 slaves per year were shipped to Sao Tome • Soon thereafter, Portuguese entrepreneurs extended the use of slave labor to South America • Eventually Brazil would become the wealthiest of the sugar-producing lands in the western hemisphere

  15. Slavery Expands • As disease reduced the native populations in Spanish conquered territories, the Spanish began relying on imported slaves from Africa • In 1518, the first shipment of slaves went directly from west Africa to the Caribbean where the slaves worked on sugar plantations • By the 1520s, the Spanish had introduced slaves to Mexico, Peru, and Central America where they worked as cultivators and miners • By the early 17th Century, the British had introduced slaves to North America

  16. Triangular Trade • The demand for labor in the western hemisphere stimulated a profitable three-legged trading pattern • European manufactured goods, namely cloth and metal wares, especially firearms, went to Africa where they were exchanged for slaves • The slaves were then shipped to the Caribbean and Americas where they were sold for cash or sometimes bartered for sugar or molasses • Then the ships returned to Europe loaded with American products

  17. Typical Triangular Trade Route

  18. Capture • The original capture of slaves was almost always violent • As European demand grew, African chieftains organized raiding parties to seize individuals from neighboring societies • Others launched wars specifically for the purpose of capturing slaves

  19. The African-American Ordeal from Capture to Destination High mortality Exhaustion, suicide, murder Long, forced marches from interior to coast Factories served as Headquarters for traders Warehouses for trade goods Pens or dungeons for captives

  20. Middle Passage • Following capture, slaves were force- marched to holding pens before being loaded on ships • The trans-Atlantic journey was called the “Middle Passage” • The ships were filthy, hot, and crowded

  21. Middle Passage • Most ships provided slaves with enough room to sit upright, but not enough to stand • Others forced slaves to lie in chains with barely 20 inches space between them

  22. Middle Passage • Crews attempted to keep as many slaves alive as possible to maximize profits, but treatment was extremely cruel • Some slaves refused to eat and crew members used tools to pry open their mouths and force-feed them • Sick slaves were cast overboard to prevent infection from spreading • During the early days of the slave trade, mortality rates were as high as 50% • As the volume of trade increased and conditions improved (bigger ships, more water, better nourishment and facilities), mortality eventually declined to about 5%

  23. Middle Passage • The time a ship took to make the Middle Passage depended upon several factors including its point of origin in Africa, the destination in the Americas, and conditions at sea such as winds, currents, and storms. • With good conditions and few delays, a 17th-century Portuguese slave ship typically took 30 to 50 days to sail from Angola to Brazil. • British, French, and Dutch ships transporting slaves between Guinea and their Caribbean island possessions took 60 to 90 days. • As larger merchant ships were introduced, these times reduced somewhat

  24. Phases of the Slave Trade The Middle Passage - Tight Pack • Higher mortality, higher profits

  25. Phases of the Slave Trade The Middle Passage - Loose pack • Lower mortality, lower profits

  26. Provisions for the Middle Passage Slaves fed twice per day Poor and insufficient diet Vegetable pulps, stews, and fruits Denied meat or fish Ten people eating from one bucket Unwashed hands spread disease Malnutrition, weakness, depression, death

  27. Sanitation, Disease, and Death Astronomically high before 1750 Poor sanitation No germ theory prior to early 20th century Malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, dysentery After 1750 Faster ships Hygiene and diet better understood Early forms of smallpox vaccinations

  28. Resistance and Revolt at Sea Uprisings were common Most rebellions before sailing Some preferred death to bondage Justification for harsh treatment by slavers

  29. Cruelty Cultural context Exceptionally cruel Slaves had half the space allowed indentured servants and convicts Slavery suitable only for non-Christians Brutal treatment by crew members

  30. African Women on Slave Ships Less protection against unwanted sexual attention from European men African women worth half the price of African men in the Caribbean markets Separation from male slaves made them easier targets

  31. Thinking Question: (Don’t write down – just think!) Given how many people died during the “Capture phase” or on the “Middle passage,” what do you think went on in the minds of the slave catchers and slave traders?

  32. Arrival • When the slave ship docked, the slaves would be taken off the ship and placed in a pen • There they would be washed and their skin covered with grease, or sometimes tar, to make them look healthy (and therefore more valuable) • They would also be branded with a hot iron to identify them as slaves

  33. Auctions • Slaves were sold at auctions • Buyers physically inspected the slaves, to include their teeth as an indication of the slave’s age • Auctioneers had slaves perform various acts to demonstrate their physical abilities

  34. Seasoning Modify behavior and attitude Preparation for North American planters Creoles slaves born in the Americas worth three times price of unseasoned Africans Old Africans Lived in the Americas for some time New Africans Had just survived the middle passage Creoles and Old Africans instruct New Africans

  35. Auctions • “We were not many days in the merchant’s custody, before we were sold after their usual manner... On a signal given, (as the beat of a drum), buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make a choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamor with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehension of terrified Africans... In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again. I remember in the vessel in which I was brought over... there were several brothers who, in the sale, were sold in different lots; and it was very moving on this occasion, to see and hear their cries in parting.” • Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano

  36. Volume of the Slave Trade • Late 15th and 16th Century… 2,000 Africans were exported each year • 17th Century… 20,000 per year • 18th Century… 55,000 per year • 1780s… 88,000 per year • All told, some 12 million Africans were transported to the western hemisphere via the Atlantic Slave Trade • Another 4 million died resisting capture or during captivity before arriving at their destination

  37. Estimated Slave Imports by Destination, 1451–1870

  38. The Atlantic and Islamic Slave Trades The Atlantic and Islamic Slave Trades: Not until 1600 did the Atlantic slave trade reach the proportions of the Islamic slave trade. This map shows the principal sources of slaves, primary routes, and major destinations.

  39. Growth of the Atlantic Slave Trade Harsher in the Americas Based on race Most were males Believed they were stronger laborers than females West African women did farm work Often withheld from trade Agricultural workers Chattel Lost rights as human beings

  40. Plantations • Most African slaves went to plantations in the tropical or subtropical regions of the western hemisphere • The first was established by the Spanish on Hispaniola in 1516 • Originally the predominant crop was sugar • In the 1530s Portuguese began organizing plantations in Brazil, and Brazil became the world’s leading supplier of sugar

  41. Plantations • In addition to sugar, plantations produced crops like tobacco, indigo, and cotton • All were designed to export commercial crops for profit • Relied almost exclusively on large amounts of slave labor supervised by small numbers of European or Euro-American managers Brazilian sugar mill in the 1830s

  42. Disease, brutal working conditions, and poor sanitation and nutrition resulted in high mortality rates Owners imported mainly male slaves and allowed few to establish families which resulted in low reproduction To keep up the needed numbers, plantation owners imported a steady stream of slaves Slavery in the Caribbean and South America

  43. Slavery in North America • Diseases took less of a toll in North America and living conditions were usually less brutal • Plantation owners imported large numbers of female slaves and encouraged their slaves to form families and bear children • Only about 5% of slaves delivered to the western hemisphere went to North America

  44. Forms of Resistance • Work slowly • Sabotage • Runaway • “Maroons” gathered together and built self-governing communities • Revolt • Slaves outnumbered the owners and supervisors so revolt was always a threat • While causing much destruction, revolts were usually able to be suppressed because the owners had access to arms, horses, and military forces

  45. Impact of Slave Trade in Africa • Mixed • Some states like Rwanda largely escaped the slave trade through resistance and geography • Some like Senegal in west Africa were hit very hard • Other societies benefited economically from selling slaves, trading, or operating ports • As abolition took root in the 19th Century some African merchants even complained about the lose of their livelihood • On the whole, however, the slave trade devastated Africa “Door of No Return” on Goree Island off the coast of Senegal

  46. Impact of Slave Trade in Africa • The Atlantic Slave Trade deprived Africa of about 16 million people and the continuing Islamic slave trade consumed another several million • Overall the African population rose thanks partly to the introduction of more nutritious food from the Americas Peanuts were one of several crops introduced to Africa from the Americas

  47. Impact of Slave Trade in Africa • The slave trade distorted African sex ratios • Approximately 2/3 of all exported slaves were male • Slavers preferred young men between the ages of 14 and 35 to maximize investment potential and be suitable for hard labor • The sexual imbalance in some parts of Africa such as Angola encouraged polygamy and caused women to take on duties that had previously been the responsibility of men

  48. Impact of Slave Trade in Africa • The slave trade brought firearms to such African societies as Asante, Dahomey, and Oyo and this increased violence • In the 18th Century, Dahomey expanded rapidly, absorbed neighboring societies, and fielded an army that was largely a slave-raiding force

  49. African Diaspora • Obviously, the main contribution slaves brought to the western hemisphere was an incredible amount of labor, without which the prosperous new societies could not have developed • However they brought other contributions as well: • Slaves built hybrid cultural traditions made up of African, European, and American elements • Influenced language by creating tongues that drew on several African and European languages